'Philip Hammond's £1.3bn road fund buys us next to nothing'

The Chancellor's 2016 Autumn Statement promised little for motorists, but delivered even less, says Mike Rutherford

The Chancellor wasn’t tempting car users with much on the eve of his 2016 Autumn Statement in the Commons. And he delivered even less. But a promise is a promise, right? On the Sunday before his Wednesday speech, some in the media were advised Philip Hammond had “£1.3billion to be targeted at improving British roads”.

On that Sunday, in a TV interview, I argued a spend of £1.3bn buys next to nowt when distributed across a highway network inside or connecting 48,000 British villages, towns and cities. 

Furthermore, I stated Hammond’s £1.3bn represents what drivers pay to him in vehicle/fuel/road/parking/insurance taxes and duties every week or so. 

So far so bad. But it gets worse, because when the Chancellor delivered his speech in Parliament, he effectively amended it and committed to “£1.1billion of investment in English local transport networks; £220million to address traffic pinch points on strategic roads”.

"Congestion could cost us £307bn - how about a ruralisation programme?"

This, it seems, is the circa £1.3bn he gave advanced warning of. But it now looks like only a fraction is guaranteed for the roads. Hammond’s left the door open for most of it to be blown on “transport networks” – which I suspect will turn out to be rail/bus/tram/tube routes, cycle lanes and the like. But just as drivers and motorcyclists pay for the road space they use, shouldn’t public transport travellers and cyclists be picking up the tab for their own tracks, lanes and paths?   

True, Phil reckons he’s got £390m to “build on our competitive advantage in low emission vehicles and the development of connected autonomous vehicles”, as well as providing much needed assistance for EV recharging infrastructure, which is shambolic.

"Isn't it time our road network was a priority too?"

But he pushed his luck when mischievously telling motorists they’re about to enjoy a “tax cut” worth £850m, based on his decision NOT to raise fuel duties. That’s misleading. A genuine cut would be a reduction in the duty levels we currently pay – and that ain’t happening.

The final kick in the bollards? Take the biggest rip-off in modern motoring – car insurance – and make it even more expensive by hiking the tax by 20 per cent. This will force some older drivers off the road, while at the same time preventing many youngsters from getting on it – in cars that would enhance their social lives, independence and job prospects.

What did you think of this year's Autumn Statement? Leave us a comment below...

Recommended

'MINI’s brand focus needs to rub off on BMW, too'
Opinion

'MINI’s brand focus needs to rub off on BMW, too'

BMW needs to regain its identity and should look to MINI for inspiration, says Steve Fowler
28 Oct 2020
'The Pop-Up Motor Show is a simple idea at precisely the right time'
Opinion

'The Pop-Up Motor Show is a simple idea at precisely the right time'

Mike Rutherford thinks the new Pop-Up Motor Show can be the perfect way to serve the demands of Britain's car users
11 Oct 2020
'The Land Rover Defender and Aston Martin DBX must be front runners for World Car Design of the Year'
Opinion

'The Land Rover Defender and Aston Martin DBX must be front runners for World Car Design of the Year'

Mike Rutherford thinks cars from Gerry McGovern and Marek Reichman are favourites to win design award
30 Aug 2020
'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'
Opinion

'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'

Deputy editor John McIlroy points to outgoing Skoda boss as a key reason for the firm's success
15 Jul 2020

Most Popular

New Suzuki Swace estate launched on UK market
News

New Suzuki Swace estate launched on UK market

Based on the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports, the Suzuki Swace estate comes to the UK
11 Nov 2020
All-new Renault Kangoo van unveiled ahead of 2021 launch
Renault Kangoo ZE Concept - show pic
Renault Kangoo

All-new Renault Kangoo van unveiled ahead of 2021 launch

First images of the third-generation Renault Kangoo panel van - which will soon square-up to the new Volkswagen Caddy
12 Nov 2020
New Citroen C3 2020 review
Citroen C3

New Citroen C3 2020 review

The Citroen C3 supermini has been updated for 2020, but have the updates boosted its appeal?
12 Nov 2020